I know, Mariah Carey’s “Triumphant (Get ‘Em)” has been out for more than 24 hours, and I’m just now posting about it (I quit the “blogger rat race” long ago, if you hadn’t noticed). Honestly, after a few listens, it left me confused. Although clearly underwhelming, I kept listening to it. (Maybe I’m so accustomed to reviewing generic music, I have forgotten how to receive something containing the slightest hint of substance? Note: the prior sentence is my disclaimer for this lengthy post.) After an embarrassingly high number of listens and a revisit to her early work, my opinion became complete enough to compose a proper and thoughtful review.
In short, I don’t like it.
My central gripe echoes the sentiments of most listeners–one of the most celebrated recording artists of all time (in my Kanye voice–I’d interrupt her on Idol and remind her if given the chance) took a back seat to Rick Ross and Meek Mill, the poster boys of achieving acclaim via repeated mediocrity. It’s well-documented that Mariah isn’t a stranger of entering a basement studio to record with the dirtiest rapper, but to reduce herself to a mere hook girl on her own record is demeaning. It highlights the desperation of a singer beyond her prime trying to compete with her inferior successors by chasing a hit.
Awkward, futile and redundant are a few of the many words one can use to describe the MMG clansmen’s contribution. Mariah could have done a better job penning the rappers’ verses or rapping herself. What does throwing money at strippers and never stopping for tolls have to do with persevering? And can someone please explain the unnecessary inclusion of DJ Khaled’s tag?
Granted, “Triumphant” is an attractive song, but Maybach Mariah’s vocals are polished to imperfection (similar to that disturbing, cartoonish single cover). Somewhere in the post-production process, dated but decorated producers, Jermaine Dupri and Bryan-Michael Cox, painted over the emotion and authenticity of the song. They may have resorted to this practice due to Mariah’s receding voice, but tweaking and layering her vocals to a point of near-inaudibility didn’t do her any favors.
The discernable lyrics, though cliché, packs a punch (literally). Mariah has an impeccable pen game, and she impresses by incorporating a covert boxing theme within the empowering song. “Get ‘em, get ‘em, get ‘em… hit ‘em, hit ‘em, hit ‘em,” she chants. “Can’t fall down,” “stay on your toes, get off the rope, don’t let em ever count you out,” she sings. I wouldn’t be surprised if she hires one of 50 Cent’s Money Team boxers for the video.
Undeniably, Mariah is the queen of comebacks, and she may become the princess of perfect timing (Adele is the queen) with “Triumphant.” The song’s universal message, though obviously contrived, is potent and contains an element of optimism the 99% needs during this time of hopelessness.
It could also be an Olympian’s theme song–particularly Gabrielle Douglas’. Everyone watched as Golden Gabby ‘stayed triumphant’, ‘reached for the stars’ and made ‘the world realize she’s the greatest’, ‘in spite of the chains that bound her’. The connection between Gabby’s inspiring story and Mariah’s victorious melody is irrefutable and forthcoming, which could potentially save MC from another commercial catastrophe.
Prior to premiering the single, Mariah announced she would accompany the song with various remixes catering to different audiences. She stands alone on the ‘vintage throwback’ remix, which appeals to the fickle dance crowd. Though the first-half of the lush track is quite tawdry, it builds to a studio-enhanced, spirit-filled conclusion that easily trumps the original. Maybe one of the remixes contains the original’s production and the mix’s vocals.
“Triumphant (Get ‘Em)” Ft. Rick Ross & Meek Mill
“Triumphant (Get ‘Em) (Vintage Throwback Remix)”
[Update] “Triumphant (Get ‘Em) (Pulse Club Mix)”
If you need a real spiritual healing (or want to save a life), introduce yourself (and others) to Mariah’s gospel-tinged “Make It Happen.” Instead of posting the studio version, I opted with two live performances. On one, she sang so ‘f*ckin’ perfect(ly)’, it’s questioned whether it was actually live; the other contains very subtle imperfections but, ironically, secured her position as “The Other Voice” (in my head).